5 pearls of wisdom from Copyblogger.com

10 08 2010

I had the good fortune this week of stumbling upon a blog that should be required reading for every writing student and, for that matter, anyone who is interested in writing well.

Copyblogger.com offers a treasure trove of tips for writing copy that grabs the reader and won’t let go. The blog is slanted toward professional copywriters, offering pointers for “online marketing success,” but everyone from novelists to emailers could benefit from its teachings.

The insights on Copyblogger are so dead-on, the presentation so clear, it’s no surprise that over 120,000 people are subscribers.

And no, I don’t have a connection to the blog. I was just thoroughly impressed with how good it is.

So, here are five of the most insightful tips I found on my first visit to Copyblogger. Many of the principles in the blog were already familiar to me, but I’d never seen them all in one place and explained quite so well before.

1. To be or not to be? This tip uses the first six words of Hamlet’s Act III, Scene 1 soliloquy to remind writers to keep it simple. William Shakespeare’s most famous line does not include a single word longer than three letters.

Use clear, strong words to get your message across without making the reader work. The No. 1 mistake writers make is “overwriting,” which means cluttering their message with unnecessary words or saying things in a roundabout way. Make it conversational. One of the very best at this was Ernest Hemingway.

2. Use short sentences: This principle goes hand-in-hand with No. 1. Short sentences are easier to digest. They make it easier to follow each point of an argument. You want to have a nice mix of short and longer sentences, but nothing kills the flow of a story like a long, confusing sentence.

3. Eliminate trash adjectives and adverbs: Most adjectives and adverbs don’t add to a sentence; they just take up space and muddle your point. Example: “I’m very interested in scheduling a face-to-face meeting.” Remove the adjectives and adverbs, and you get the same message, but clearer: “I’m interested in scheduling a meeting.”

4. Be specific: Be ultra-specific in your assertions, and always make sure to give “reasons why.” General statements that aren’t supported by specific facts tell the reader you haven’t done your homework and you have no credibility.

5. Don’t be redundant or repeat yourself: Also, don’t keep writing the same thing over and over and over. In other words, say something once rather than several times. Because when you repeat yourself or keep writing the same thing, the reader turns off.

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4 responses

10 08 2010
josh1340

Thanks for pointing me towards this site! I spent about 30 minutes checking it out. I agree with what you gathered from the site. Those are great tips for every writer.
-Josh

10 08 2010
Alex Mitchell

Thanks, Josh, for writing. I’m glad you enjoy Copyblogger as much as I do. I really was thrilled to find it. I am a subscriber, so I look forward to more great insights.

15 08 2010
jan marino

Hey – great blogs…good info….easy and enjoying to read

19 08 2010
Alex Mitchell

Thanks, Jan. Glad you enjoy it!

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